If there’s one thing I hate about my current favorite superhero series Empowered, it’s that there isn’t nearly as much of it as there should be. While the first four entries were released in six months intervals, the gap between successive graphic novels has continued to increase, culminating in an excruciating 18 month wait between Volumes 6 and 7. This pain is made all the more unbearable by its many ongoing plotlines, which has led me to go back and reread the entire saga on the multiple occasions, desperately looking for any clues or hints about upcoming developments that I may have missed the first (few) time(s) around as I impatiently wait for the real answer.
Generous person that I am, I’ve decided to help spread the insanity around by writing retrospective articles about some of Empowered‘s unresolved storylines and where I think the series will be heading in the future. And what better place to start with those speculations than the resolution of Sistah Spooky‘s story arc, which creator Adam Warren has gone on record stating “(will be) addressed with considerable finality in Empowered Vol. 8“.
This goes without saying, but…massive spoilers ahoy. Fair warning, people.
The Story Thus Far
Six years before the beginning of the series, Sistah Spooky was a normal teenage girl named Theresa just trying to survive adolescence. Now, discovering that you’re gay – or at least bisexual with a distinct preference for woman – is rough enough when you’re a kid. Getting rejected by your first crush? Even worse.
Needless to say, you’re gonna develop some serious issues with blondes. And when you’re finally pushed too far, you’re going to do something about it. Like summon a demon from the darkest depths of Hell itself and ask him for the power to smite your enemies.
Now, Theresa’s story might’ve ended there had someone not made a typo.
Subconsciously modeling her public persona on the way she perceived the girls who tormented her in high school – “cruel, arrogant, aloof, and haughty…not to mention unapproachable, alluring, and intensely desirable”, as one character put it – Theresa made a highly successful, award-winning debut as the magic-wielding superheroine Sistah Spooky and became a member of the Superhomeys. During the course of a mission in the company of her teammate Mindfuck – a blind, mute telepath whose superpowers led her to choose to live a life of isolation and solitude aboard Joint Superteam Space Station 3, a.k.a. the d10 – a random convergence of events forced the two of them to share a temporary telepathic link in order to ensure their mutual survival, something which ended up having unexpected consequences.
Sistah Spooky managed to move past her traumatic high school experiences with blondes enough for her and Mindfuck to become secret lovers. Unfortunately, her insecurities and self-loathing issues eventually led to the demise of their relationship, and, though the two of them retained visible feelings for one another in spite of the breakup, they never managed to reconcile until moments before Mindfuck was killed as the d10 broke up on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, its orbit and mechanical systems having previously been compromised by the actions of the sadistic fire elemental Willy Pete.
Wracked with guilt and regret due to her failure to save her ex-girlfriend and over not having salvaged their relationship while she still had the chance, Sistah Spooky suffered a severe mental breakdown. Though she managed to hide the extent of it from her teammates and pull herself together enough to function socially, she was reduced to a near catatonic state in private, often retreating into her own mind and reliving her own worst memories over and over again…only to discover on one such occasion that she wasn’t alone.
While Sistah Spooky found herself spending more and more quality time with the mnemonic emulation of Mindfuck, growing ever more disconnected and withdrawn from reality in the process, her happiness would prove to be short-lived. The first shoe dropped when the Infernal Service Provider who had inadvertently granted her her powers years earlier reestablished contact using the evil, undead, technological genius Deathmonger as an avatar in order to drop a bombshell on her.
Where the Story May Be Headed
First of all, I’m pretty sure that the Infernal Service Provider is bluffing about Mindfuck’s fate. While we never learn much about her background, what we do know about her past…
…combined with the fact that she essentially sacrificed her own life to ensure that Empowered would survive the d10’s destruction doesn’t make her sound like a prime candidate for eternal damnation to me. Many of us struggle all of our lives to try and become better people. She used her psychic powers to actually make herself a better person, and, regardless of her motivation, did so of her own free will. That has to count for something in this crazy world.
Moreover, the demon’s actions just raise another important question, namely why exactly he’s coming after his former client now, six whole years after he accidentally gave her magical powers and messed up his career. Given Sistah Spooky’s obsession with her public image and social standing…
My theory is that the Infernal Service Provider’s not only taking advantage of Sistah Spooky’s trauma and the coincidental timing of Mindfuck’s death, but that his hand was forced by a recent event which would screw up his career even more – not to mention those of countless other demons like him – if she or anyone else were to realize it. In the worst case scenario, it could potentially cost Hell all of the souls its “Trade Your Soul For Hotness” program has managed to bring in thus far, which would be an unmitigated disaster of infernal proportions.
Now, you may be asking yourself how this could possibly be. Well, the answer may once again lie in the fine print. While we, the readers, have never actually seen the terms of conditions of said contract, Sistah Spooky’s made at least one important reference to it in passing:
The magic word here is immutable, as in “not capable of or susceptible to change”. And if I’m right and that is indeed one of the terms of the agreement, then the Infernal Service Provider’s even more screwed than he previously was.
See, during the 17th Annual Caped Justice Awards in Empowered – Volume 4, Sistah Spooky unknowingly consumed food seasoned with superpower-nullifying genetic material that her traitorous comrade dWARf! had previously harvested from the supervillain Wet Blanket, causing her to lose her magical abilities and temporarily revert to her underage, pre-hellpact body. And since her hotness has thus been proven to be entirely mutable, the demon’s guilty of three things:
1. Making a fradulent claim.
2. Engaging in false advertising.
3. Reneging on the terms and conditions of their agreement.
No matter which way you slice it, the contract she signed is null and void, and so is the Infernal Service Provider’s hold on her soul. Let’s just hope that either she or Empowered realize this before it’s too late and can use this fact to their advantage.
As for poor Mindfuck…I’m still hoping for a Hollywood ending to the whole deal, with her being restored to life (or otherwise brought back) and she and a de-powered Theresa retiring from superheroics in order to begin a new life together somewhere. Unfortunately, this being Adam Warren (who, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t really known for falling back on the “comic book death” trope too much), I’m getting the sinking feeling that such a development isn’t in the cards…
…and that the command phrase to remove the neural echoes from Sistah Spooky’s mind will end up being invoked, removing the mental/emotional crutch the latter’s been (ab)using to put off dealing with her loss and allowing her to move on.
On the other hand, the following conversation on Twitter from January 2, 2013 has given me a small glimmer of hope: